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is so formidable to her foes and so potent to her friends, to the Cloth workers' honour it may justly be said 'Tis your shuttle nerves her arm and your woof that enrobes your glory.”
Howe states that James I, being in the open hall, enquired who was the master, and the lord mayor answering, “Sir William Stone,” the king said, “Wilt thou make me free of the Clothworkers ? ” “ Yes” quoth the master, "and think myself a happy man that I live to see this day.” Then the king said, “Stone, give me thy hand, and now I am a Clothworker."
Their arms, granted by Henry VIII, are adorned with the motto, “My trust is in God alone."
Cloth and tapestry weavers were the first of the livery companies incorporated, and in the reign of Henry I paid £16 a year to the Crown for their immunities. The privileges were confirmed at Winchester by Henry II in 1184, their charter being sealed by no less an official than Thomas à Becket. The Weavers have an old picture of William Lee, the inventor of the stocking loom, showing his invention to a female knitter whose toil it was to spare. Below is this inscription :
“In the year 1589, the ingenious Wm. Lee, Master of Arts of St. John's College, Cambridge, devised this profitable art for stockings (but being despised went to France), yet of iron to himself, but to us and others of gold, in memory of whom this is here painted.”
A tradition exists that Lee invented the stocking machine to facilitate the labour of knitting in consequence of falling in love with a young country girl who, during his visits, was more attentive to her knitting than to his proposals.
The Merchant Taylors, whose hall is appropriately situated in Threadneedle Street, had their first licence as “ Linen Armourers” granted by Edward I. The first Master, Henry de Ryall, was called their “Pilgrim” because he travelled for them, and their wardens were styled “Purveyors of dress." Their first charter is dated Edward III, and Richard II confirmed his grandfather's grants. From Henry IV they obtained a confirmatory charter as “Master and Wardens of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist of London.” Henry VI gave them the right of search and correction of abuses. They were incorporated in Edward IV, and Henry VII, being a member of the company, for their greater honour transformed them from Tailors and Linen Armourers to Merchant Taylors. This has since received the confirmation of five sovereigns—Henry VIII, Edward VI, Philip and Mary, Elizabeth and James I. Merchant Taylors were originally bona fide cutters out and makers up of cloths, or dealers in and importers of cloth. The London tailors originally made both men's and women's apparel, soldiers' quilted furcoats, the padded lining of armour, and probably the trappings of war-horses.
In Edward III they contributed £20 towards the French wars, and in 1377 they sent six members to the Common Council, a number equalling the largest guilds, and were reckoned the seventh company in precedence. In 1483 the Merchant Taylors and Skinners disputed for precedence, which the lord mayor decided should be alternately; and, further, wisely decreed that each company should dine in the other's hall twice a year on the visit of Corpus Christi and the feast of St. John the Baptist-a laudable custom which restored peace. In 1571 there is a precept ordering that ten of their men and ten of the Vintners should ward each of the city gates every tenth day. In 1579 they were required to provide and train 200 men for arms. In 1586 the master and
wardens were threatened by the mayor for not making the provision of gunpowder required of all London companies. In 1588 they had to furnish 35 armed men for the Queen's service against the dreaded Spanish Armada. For the searching and measuring of cloth they kept a “silver yard,” weighing 36 ozs. and graven with the company's arms. With this they attended Bartholomew Fair yearly, when a formal dinner was given. The livery hoods in 1568 finally settled down to scarlet and puce, and the gowns to blue. Though not the first in precedence, they rank more royal and noble personages amongst their members than any other company. At King James's visit no fewer than twenty-two earls and lords, besides knights, esquires and foreign ambassadors were enrolled. Before 1708 they had granted their freedom to ten kings, three princes, twenty-seven bishops, twenty-six dukes, forty-seven earls, and sixteen lord mayors. They are specially proud of three illustrious members—Sir John Hawkwood, who was a great leader of Italian Condottieri, who fought for the Dukes of Milan, and was buried with honour in the Duomo at Florence; Sir Raph Blackwell, the supposed founder of Blackwell Hall; and Sir William Fitzwilliam, Lord High Admiral to Henry VIII, and Earl of Southampton, who left them his best standing cup, “In friendly remembrance of him for ever.”
Sir William Craven, ancestor of the Earls of Craven, who came up to London a poor Yorkshire lad, was bound apprentice to a draper. His eldest son fought for Gustavus Adolphus, and is supposed to have secretly married the unfortunate Queen of Bohemia, whom he had so faithfully served.
By their statutes of 1561 it was ordained that the High Master should be “a man in body whole, sober, discrete,
a honest, virtuous, and learned in good and cleane Latin literature, and also Greek—if such may be gotten." He might either be wedded or single, or a priest that had no benefice. He must have three ushers, and the number of scholars was limited to two hundred and fifty of all nations. The children of Jews being ultimately excluded.
The first head master, Richard Mulcastor, was brought up at Eton, and renowned for his critical knowledge of Greek, Latin, and Oriental literature. Fuller says he was a severe disciplinarian, but beloved by his pupils when they came to the age of maturity and reflected on the benefit they had derived from his care.
The list of eminent men educated by the Merchant Taylors is a proud one: William Juxon, Bishop of London, and, after the Restoration, Archbishop of Canterbury, who faithfully attended Charles I on the scaffold; William Dawes and John Gilbert, Archbishops of York; and Hugh Boulter, Archbishop of Armagh.
Among the bishops is the eminent scholar Bishop Andrews, before whom James I dared not indulge in ribaldry. He defended King James's Defence of the rights of Kings against Cardinal Bellarmine, and in return obtained the see of Ely.
Their roll of bishops includes Thomas Dove, Bishop of Peterboro' and Chaplain to Queen Elizabeth, who, from his flowing white locks, called him the “Dove with silver wings; Mathew Wren, Bishop of Ely, Sir Christopher's uncle, who accompanied Prince Charles to Spain, and was imprisoned in the Tower for eighteen years, refusing to come out even on Cromwell's offer; John Buckridge, also Bishop of Ely; Giles Thompson, Bishop of Gloucester; and Peter Mews, Bishop of Winchester, who, expelled Oxford by the Puritans, entered the army and served under the Duke of York in Flanders.
The Guild of Goldsmiths is of extreme antiquity, having been fined in 1180 as adulterine, that is, carried on without the king's special licence. In any matter where fines could be extorted the Norman kings took a paternal interest in the doings of their patient subjects. In 1267 they were infected with the pugnacious spirit of the age. Bands of goldsmiths and tailors are recorded as fighting in the London streets from jealousy, and five hundred snippers of cloth meeting by appointment five hundred hammerers of metal, and having a bloody contest. Many were killed, and the sheriff had to interpose with the city force, when bows, swords and spears were used. The ringleaders were apprehended, and thirteen condemned and executed.
In 1278 many spurious goldsmiths were arrested for frauds, and three Englishmen were hung, together with a dozen unfortunate Jews.
They were incorporated in Richard II, that thriftless monarch who wore golden bells on his sleeves and baldric. For ten marks—not a very great consideration, though it was no doubt all he could get-Richard's grandfather, the warlike and chivalrous Edward III, had already given “ the Mystery of Goldsmiths” the privilege of purchasing in mortmain an estate of £20 per annum for the support of old and sick members. The Guilds being benefit clubs, as well as social companies and jealous monopolists, Edward's grant gave them the right to inspect, try, and regulate all gold and silver wares in any part of England, with the further power to punish offenders detected in working adulterated gold and silver. Edward gave them four charters, and Henry IV, Henry V, and Edward IV confirmed the liberties of the Company. Their records furnish much curious information. All Goldsmiths were required to have shops in Chepe, or in the King's Exchange. Their